Two Saudi female activists held for defying driving ban

One activist tried to drive her car back into Saudi Arabia after visiting UAE

Saudi police arrested two female activists after one of them defied a ban on driving cars by women and tried to drive back to the Gulf Kingdom through the border with the UAE.

Newspapers said police arrested Lujein Al Hadoul after she defied the ban and tried to drive into Saudi Arabia from the UAE, which she visited last week.

Her friend Maysa Al Amoudi, a former presenter for the Arabic Rotana TV channel, was also arrested after she traveled to the border to demonstrate support for Hadoul.

“Hadoul tried to defy the Kingdom’s law by driving her own car into the country after visiting the UAE.
“She refused to hand over the car and call a male relative to drive and staged a sit-in at the border for nearly 24 hours,” the ‘Ajel’ daily said.

Hadoul was one of key female activists who defied a ban on driving by women in Saudi Arabia and staged a driving protest through the conservative Kingdom last year.

She underscored her defiance in October 2013 with a film posted on social networks showing her driving through the streets of the capital Riyadh just after she returned home from the United States, where she is on a government scholarship.

Hadoul drove her father’s car as he sat next to her apparently to show his support for women’s campaigns to end the age-old ban on female driving.

Saudi women also defied the ban in 2011 and campaigned for a decision to allow women to drive.

Many of them took to the street and drove cars, triggering anger among Saudi male hardliners who are strongly opposed to female driving.

Saudi female activist Manal Al Sharif, one of the campaign leaders in 2011, hit headlines after she was briefly jailed when she was caught driving.

Saudi officials say it is up to King Abdullah to issue a decision ending the ban, which they attribute to social barriers in the country, the world’s largest oil exporter.

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